3 Feasible Game Plans For Quitting Your 9-5 to Invest Full Time

by | BiggerPockets.com

I can tell you firsthand that there is no better motivator or way to expedite your growth than to be a full time investor. I have been in this business full time for 10 years now. In that time, I have met many people who would love to work full time in their investing business, but they haven’t found the way to do it. I have brainstormed ideas on making it happen with them, and some have been able to break free.

Over the years, I have seen equations that worked and those that didn’t for transitioning to full time. Today I want to outline three ways I have seen work to break off from that JOB and start putting all your energy into being a kick butt real estate entrepreneur. For those of you who are still working a 9 to 5 and want to walk as soon as you can, I hope you get some ideas and inspiration here. Let’s get to it!

3 Feasible Game Plans For Quitting Your 9-5 to Invest Full Time

Path #1: The 1099 Route

Most people with jobs get a W-2 at the end of the year and are commonly called “W-2 employees.” The company you work for sets the rules on when you have to be there and what you are allowed to do when you are “on the clock.” I just hired a new property manager who is leaving his current job as a bank teller. He is not allowed to have his cell phone with him during work at all. That would make it pretty hard to get that call about a prospective tenant or hot purchase deal, wouldn’t you say? W-2s have to give up their time for money.

One way to get your time back is to take on a 1099 “independent contractor” position. People with 1099s are in control of their own time. They are not paid by the hour; they are paid to get the job done. If they do it in 10 hours instead of 20, those additional 10 hours are theirs to use as they wish. Typical 1099 positions are commission based salespeople. You sell something, you make money. You don’t sell, you don’t earn.

The most common 1099 path for aspiring buy and hold real estate investors is becoming a licensed real estate agent. They are sometimes on the inside track for the really good deals and can spend time surfing the MLS for deals for their clients and for themselves at the same time. In most states, a real estate agent just needs to disclose that they are licensed when purchasing or selling property on their own behalf, and they are covered. Other buy and hold investors who spend some time in other fields work as appraisers, and I even know one claims adjuster who is a very successful buy and hold investor.


For the aspiring fix and flipper looking for a 1099, the ones I have seen do well are those who also own or work for a licensed construction company. One day they are adding a deck to your home with their crew, the next they are installing a new kitchen on that flip property they bought at the Sheriff sale.

Related: 3 Reasons to Quit Your 9-5 to Invest in Real Estate Full-Time

Wholesalers on the other hand seem to have their hands tied. I can’t seem to think of any 1099 positions that make sense for a wholesaler! I may receive some disagreement in the comments here, but it is my understanding that licensed agents have a hard time wholesaling deals because they are making money on the sale of a property outside of their brokerage. Even if it’s ok with the Real Estate Commission, it is probably not ok with the owner of their brokerage. Feel free to debate me on this one or offer up some ideas that do work for wholesalers looking for a 1099!

So this path is not actually doing the business full time, I acknowledge that. It is, however, doing it as much as you can while you work the 1099 just enough to pay your bills. Most of those I know who started out this way were able to leverage their relationships and income from their 1099 position, and within two to three years they had shifted to running their investing business as their primary focus. The 1099 became something they did either did to “keep the license active” or for a change of pace every here and again.

Path #2: Hold Your Breath

So this one is the big roll of the dice. It goes like this: You live off savings, cash, credit, etc. and do this full time. It takes a humongous shot of courage, but it’s one of the best motivators out there.

Interested? Read on.

Take all your liquid assets–cash, lines of credit, credit cards, and even your retirement accounts–and total up how much money you can come up with. Take your annual living expenses, living as lean as you can, and divide it into the first number. The number you come up with is how long you can live off your liquid cash and focus completely on your RE business. If you can’t figure out how to do this for a year, I would not recommend it.
My wife and I did the “hold your breath” method to have her join me full time in 2009, and it didn’t work. That was a tough year for us, but we gave it a go. After a year of living on our savings and a sporadic income from the business, we decided the best thing was for her to go back to work. I know several people who made it work, although it was extremely stressful at the time for them!

This method is the one I see most aspiring wholesalers go for. As wholesaling doesn’t require a huge cash outlay up front aside from some marketing expenses, you can push all your available cash to your living expenses. Whatever your investment strategy, this path requires a solid plan, a super strict and conservative personal budget, and lots of courage to stick with it even when you have a dry spell!


Path #3: Stand on Your Spouse’s Shoulders

The title pretty much explains itself. First off, you need to be married or have a significant other that you have a deep level of trust with. You find a way to live off one of your incomes, which is a challenge in this day and age. If you can figure it out, one of you gets freed up to focus on their RE business full time, while the other holds down the fort with their income from their job. This path requires a lot of trust on both sides and most importantly requires that the working spouse is 100% enrolled in the real estate business and how it will be benefit you both in the long run.

Related: I JUST Quit My Job to Invest: These 4 Lessons Helped Me Get Here

This is the direction my wife and I took. We were real estate education junkies while we were dating so the enrollment was there at an early stage. We actually decided when we were engaged for me to quit my job right after we got married. We bought a house that was very modest and well below our means, easily affordable on her salary. We didn’t buy new cars. We didn’t eat out too much. We lived as lean as we could, and we made it work. It took a while and there were some frustrations about getting it moving, but with patience and persistence, we got there! In 2013 we had our son, and my wife was able to stay home with him full time. I write this article the day before our 10 year anniversary, to give you an idea of the commitment it took to stick to this plan!


So to wrap it up, there is no easy road to doing this business full time. Any one of the plans I laid out above have plenty of hurdles and challenges that will inadvertently come up. That being said, I can tell you that with a solid plan and commitment, it’s worth it. There is no better way to expedite your growth and get where you want to go in this business than being able to put all (or most of) your time into it.

Have another method to go full time? Have you succeeded or failed at one of the above?

Let’s hear about it! Leave a comment below, and let’s get the conversation started.

About Author

Matt Faircloth

Matt Faircloth, Co-founder & President of the DeRosa Group, is a seasoned real estate investor. The DeRosa Group, based in historic Trenton, New Jersey, is a developer and owner of commercial and residential property with a mission to “transform lives through real estate." Matt, along with his wife Liz, started investing in real estate in 2004 with the purchase of a duplex outside of Philadelphia with a $30,000 private loan. They founded DeRosa Group in 2005 and have since grown the company to owning and managing over 370 units of residential and commercial assets throughout the east coast. DeRosa has completed over $30 million in real estate transactions involving private capital including fix and flips, single family home rentals, mixed use buildings, apartment buildings, office buildings, and tax lien investments. Matt Faircloth is the author of Raising Private Capital, has been featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast, and regularly contributes to BiggerPockets’s Facebook Live sessions and educational webinars.


    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Wilson,
      While I agree that buying enough rentals to supplement your day job’s income is a good path it is a long play. Unless you are flush with cash it will take a while to build up enough income for it to make sense.

      You also need to monitor your most precious asset, your time. If you are looking to hold down the day job while building your investment portfolio you need to find deals that aren’t going to suck out a bunch of your time or distract from your job. That might mean investing in someone else’s deal, or doing some turnkeys with management included. These can have lower ROI’s because the operator of the deal has to get paid too but they will increase your income and overtime fill in the gap from your job when you leave it. It’s a longer play but it works!

      Take care,


  1. Shawn Connors

    Great article,

    I’ve been thinking of ways to quit my JOB and start investing full time. I have an opportunity to work for a successful investor and may even get paid a salary to do so, also making bonuses and commission splits. This is ideal and hopefully it will pan out. Thanks for the article

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hi Shawn,
      It’s funny you bring that up. That could be a legitimate Path #4 – work for someone already doing it.
      At my company, The DeRosa Group, we just hired a new Property Manager and were sure to hire someone with Real Estate Investment aspirations. We called it the “Landlord Apprentice Program”. We plan on teaching this person everything there is to know about this business over an 18 month period. After that they can either stay with us or use what they learn here to do it on their own and partner with us on deals in the future.
      I’m glad other landlords are offering this type of program up also!
      Good luck with it!

  2. Jerry W.

    Another great article. I am hoping to get to the part of having rental income replace my day job income. The last 2 years I went into very aggressive acquisition mode. This year due to a recession in our local economy I just doing all the major upgrades for anything that will need replaced in the next 3 or 4 years. I have 7 new properties though paying down loans on 15 year notes, as well as a large note from buying a business partner out of a real estate company. In 7 years I could refinance everything on longer notes and pay off other notes and almost make enough to retire. That is without buying any more properties. You can always change your plan, but without any plan you won’t get to far along the path to your goals.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Jerry,
      It sounds like you have a great plan! I love that you have 15-year mortgages, the accelerated debt pay down is a millionaire maker! Are you able to cash flow with the principal and interest payments?
      Instead of a refinance when you get them paid off I would look towards a line of credit. That way you can borrow against it and invest in more cash flowing deals with that money. I like lines of credit because you only pay for what you borrow.
      Also when you get there read “The Banker’s Code”. Being a private lender is a great way to make income if you have a large chunk to put into deals. That could be a nice living when you get those deals paid off!
      Good luck,

  3. Brian Larson

    love the article. I think I have thought through each of these at one point or another and the one that has the highest chance for success is #2. Suck it up and go…yet I sit. Maybe soon.

    on a different note, 1 big perk of a 1099 is the ability to fund a self directed 401k. I have actually looked into this while keeping my day job just so I can dump cash into a tax sheltered vehicle. Jeff Brown is a big fan of this strategy. I am weighing those consequences now but it may grease the wheels to freedom.

    thanks for the article.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Brian,
      Take my word – Option 2 is an enormous leap of faith but it can pay off. Just do a gut check, make a solid plan, grab your you-know-what’s, and jump!
      I had never heard that you could invest in real estate with a self-directed 401 K, only and IRA. I could be wrong on this, if so let me know!

      • Matt,

        Brian is right on target. I have done most of my investing through a self directed individual 401k. It is a great way to get started in the business, if you have a healthy retirement nest egg you can fund with. It does require that you keep working though.

        A 401k requires that you have a business backing it (as opposed to an IRA which does not). It also requires a more hands off investing approach, similar to IRAs. You are not allowed to perform your own maintenance, property management, etc. You can however, make both individual contributions and profit sharing contributions from your business, which can mean large cash inflows each year.

        The biggest downside is that it is a retirement fund and cannot aid you in quitting the business that is funding it. Great choice though to partner with either a 1099 business or a traditional one employee business.


  4. Mario Mormile

    Matt, thank you for the inspiring article! I am currently in the business of home remodeling and on the path to getting my real estate license. I just bought a buy-and-hold property not too long ago and working on buying a fix and flip. It seems like there are new challenges every day, but staying focused on the goal of becoming a full time investor is always at the forefront of my mind. Have a day!

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Mario,
      Glad to hear from you. You are on the path for Option 1 it sounds like. You will find that as you get more income from the investing business you will need to find a balance between home remodeling for others and doing your own deals. It’s an art and the border between the two initiatives shift as your investments grow.
      Best of luck!

  5. Maurice J.


    Great article man! My wife and I are currently saving so we can make the switch to me jumping in full time to REI. About a year ago, we got rid of car payments, cable, memberships, and cut everything we could to stuff as much into savings as possible. Extremely hard for us to do so I am happy to see it worked for you guys. Although we have made offers on over a dozen deals we have not been able to secure one as of yet. After reading this I feel we are going to take the same route you and your wife did and live off of one job while I jump in full time. Thanks for your post and videos you guys are always amazing!

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Maurice!
      Good to hear from you. If you or your wife can hold down a W-2 to support your expenses and also supplement with some savings if needed, that might buy you some more time. You did the first step by getting those expenses paid down! Don’t get discouraged with the deals not coming yet. It’s a matter of creating a habit of making a certain amount of offers per week and sticking to it. You will get there!

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey JP,
      Option 4 really could be “work for someone already doing it”. Let’s plan the flag and say that’s the one! It’s a great way to learn the business through exposure and direct mentorship with an employer. It’s our first time doing the Apprentice model but we are happy so far. If it works we will be expanding the program!

  6. Christopher Leon

    @MattFaircloth thanks for the post. I personally experienced success quitting my job the second time around. First time was pre-mature and didn’t work – I think I lasted like 2.5 months. I learned on the second time; I eliminated all debt and saved up 8 months worth of living expenses (thanks to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University) walked into my boss’ office, and told my (almost) Father-In-Law at the time, I quit! He thought I was crazy since I was going to be marrying his daughter, but, years later I’m still investing full time by adding to my rental portfolio, managing the portfolio (repairs, tenants, re-ups, etc) and, while working as a real estate agent. It’s been the smartest thing I have ever done, second if my wife is reading this, then marrying her would be number one.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Christopher,

      Nice cover at the end there. I hope she read it! I am always sure to give my wife Liz a shout out when I can – investing in real estate was actually her inspiration! I find that she comes up with the great ideas, then I go out and implement them, LOL.
      Glad you are succeeding, and really glad to see that you tried a second time. I’m sure you learned a lot the first time. I find that my failures teach me the lessons I need to apply a second time in order to succeed!
      Best of luck!

  7. Jon Tudor

    Thanks for the article Matt.

    My wife and I are pursuing a combination of option 1, 3. We got married this year after nearly 6 years of being together and on our honeymoon got to thinking about rental real estate. Over the last 6 months this has evolved into a full blown strategy and business plan. My wife is currently working to get her real estate license because of the property acquisition and future tax benefits, and we plan to buy our first property next year. In 5 years we hope to replace her income so she can work on the business full time and supplement income as at 1099 by selling real estate with her license. This will give her free time to stay at home with a child if we have one. Eventually we hope to get to the point where rental income can replace my income as well (we’ve figured out the rough number of properties to do this, just not the timeline to scale). As my W2 job makes quite a bit more than hers and has a lot of potential to continue increasing we feel it makes sense for me to continue working and supporting, specifically because right now my income is able to cover all of our expenses and we essentially invest her paycheck (whether it be retirement accounts, after tax stocks or now real estate).

    It’s good to see someone who has done a similar strategy. It’s inspirational!

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Jon,
      You and your wife have an almost identical plan to ours! We made the decision on our honeymoon also. It took a bit longer than 5 years but we had the bottom fall out of the real estate market in there so tack on a few years for that. The main advice I have for you is make a solid and attainable plan, and network your tail off with anyone that can help you once you are free from the JOB. I joined a BNI chapter soon after I quit my job and it was a big help.
      I hope that helps!

  8. Luka Milicevic

    My ultimate goal is to do this full-time. I find there is so much stress when having to deal with properties when 8-10 hours of your day are spent at your W2 job.

    I got a call from my tenant yesterday saying the garbage disposal in the sink is clogged and water is backing up. Immediately I start stressing about how I will find time to fix this issue since I’m the handyman, accountant and janitor for my RE business. I always think if I did this full-time these things wouldn’t stress me out at all because it’s part of my job!

    The route I have chosen is to just acquire as many properties as I can until I have enough to quit my job. I have a somewhat flexible job where I can take phone calls, surf the net, etc. I can imagine it is much much harder for people who are not able to do so at their jobs.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Luka,
      I owned a few rentals when I had my job too, it was a balancing act! If you have a few rentals already consider having a part-time handyman that does all your grass cutting and repairs for you. It sounds like you are doing that stuff yourself right now but remember that you can only do that with a limited number of units even if you are full time. At some point you will have to transition some of the roles out to others! If you are feeling the pressure it might be time to look deligation more seriously.
      Best of luck!

  9. Jack presen

    I brought a house in April In Atlanta, I’m moving to Texas in February. I’m renting the rooms in my house to different people. I’m new to real estate investing, I’m currently in Real Estate school. How do I write a lease that protects me, insure me of getting paid. What do I do if the tenant don’t want to pay. Is there anyways I can link it up with there credit, not be reliable if something was to happen to them or any of their guests.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Jack,
      If you are renting individual rooms in your prior house you really need to get yourself a strong lease to protect yourself. If you are very new to the business I would hire an attorney to write up the lease for you. With regards to auto payments, there are a bunch of services that can do it, but you should look to direct deposit or ACH services versus credit cards. The tenants can dispute the charge on their credit card and have the rent payment reversed. There is a bunch of Bigger Pockets on these topics, I’m sure you can find some articles and forum posts on them!
      Best of luck!

  10. Aleksandar P.

    Another great article Matt. Based on these options, I think that #3 seems to be most feasible. I am convinced that the spouse has a tremendous role in your road to success in Real Estate and in generation of wealth period. In one of my favorite books “Millionaire’s mind” the author sites the data that vast majority millionaires in US are married or were married during the wealth accumulation years.

    Happy anniversary to Liz and you and congrats. You guys rock!

    • Matt Faircloth

      hey Aleksandar,

      Good to hear from you! We tried Option 2 and 3, and I think that 3 was the one that elevated us to success. It allowed for the most time to build a track record so that we could go out and effectively enroll investors in our business, which was the catalyst to growth, in my opinion. Having a spouse that is enrolled in real estate as a path to wealth is key. I have not seen a married person succeed in this business with out at least the emotional support of their spouse, and financial support is even better. Having kids changes things, which is why Liz and I waited to have Zachary until the business was stable. I know that not everyone has that luxury.
      I love the Millionaire Mind stat. Liz and I are big fans of that book and their weekends.
      Take care,

  11. Will C.

    Great article with very helpful information! One item of clarification regarding terminology: A real estate entrepreneur works full time in the real estate industry, buying and selling properties, notes, etc. A real estate investor will typically have a passive roll and not log a lot of hours actually working on real estate transactions. They simply invest their money in a property or project and await their returns or losses.

    Nearly everyone in the industry uses this terminology incorrectly. Only recently, when starting to slowly transiton from a full time real estate entrepreneur to a real estate investor with a decent stake to actually invest, did I realize the drastic different in roles.

    In Kiyosaki speak think of the differences in these roles in terms of the B quadrant and the I quadrant.

    Sometimes people are both a real estate entrepreneur and a real estate investor. They actively work on their real estate business each day and also have holdings in properties that passively spin off cashflows and/or capital gains.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Will,
      Although it is good to delineate the types of investors, I don’t think the terms you are using are hard and fast. Although I “work” full time in the business I am a real estate investor because I am building my wealth in real estate. I am also an entrepreneur as I am the founder and owner of the business. To use Rich Dad’s terms I started out in the S Quadrant (Self Employed) when it was just my wife and I in the business, and moved to a B (Business Owner) now as we have 13 employees.

      I do think it’s good to separate those that are coming from the I Quadrant (Investor). I like to call them Passive Investors, and those that are putting in the time to run the operations Active Investors. They both have their place, and both are investors in my book.

      Great comment by the way and thanks for the Rich Dad reference!

      Take care,


  12. Jason Kosowan

    Hi Matt

    Thanks for the inspiring article – it’s very timely for my current situation!

    I know you’re probably busy, but I’m wondering if you’d have some time to chat for even just a few minutes. I’m trying to come up with a game plan going forward and would love to get some input.


    – Jason

  13. Daniel Ragland

    Great post Matt!

    I’m definitely leaning towards Path #1. I’m currently a licensed real estate agent but have yet start practicing. Like you I’ve been a buy & hold investor with my wife for the past 10 years but only part time of course. I’m in the process of paying off unnecessary debt and living more lean to invest full time by 2018. It’s been a challenge mentally b/c my son will soon turn 4 and I want to secure his future. I always read your posts on BP because you give very insightful and useful information. I admire your journey to becoming a successful real estate entrepreneur and hope to one day replicate your success in some fashion.



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